Living in a dorm can be very exciting for a college freshman away from home for the first time. A new life chapter is beginning among thousands of other young people all eager to make the most of what college has to offer. It can also be daunting to face that totally new environment with mostly strangers. Taking time to turn your space -- your dorm room -- into an environment that feels comfortable and happy may be the best thing you can do to get yourself off on the right foot.
More than ever before it's a wired up world, and technology plays a massive part in most people's lives -- possibly even more so for younger people. You may be spending a lot of downtime in your room so it's important to have plenty to do. A laptop or computer, in addition to aiding in research and course work, provides endless entertainment options: social networking, playing online games, listening to music and watching movies. A small television and a games console can help with socializing. Not everyone around you will have them.
You may be a long way from home, so some touches of familiarity can be comforting. While most people thrive in the dorm environment, homesickness can be a natural feeling at some point for many in their first year away from home. Transferring posters and decorations from your old room to the dorm room adds a personal touch and reminders of home. Grab that favorite pillow and pack a few photos of family and friends. Familiar bedding or soft toys may help females feel more at home, but guys may be satisfied to display sport trophies or team photos.
There are many practical everyday items you will need as a college freshman in your dorm room. A laundry hamper and bedding are necessities -- perhaps even a sleeping bag for trips away. Small practical things like scissors, candles, pens and paper and all-purpose cleaner come in handy. And don't forget scholastic materials, possibly some storage crates, a bedside lamp and a good alarm clock.
You will need to take the same personal items you would pack for any other long-term stay away from home. Make-up kits, shower and bathroom accessories and other personal hygiene products are essential. Remember to pack medications, supplements and any other special items that help with medical conditions you may have -- such as an inhaler for asthma.
Kate Coen has been writing professionally since 1996. She has written for "The Guardian," "Time" magazine, "SIX Magazine," Reuters, Bloomberg and other media. Coen holds a Bachelor of Arts in modern languages (French and Spanish) from Oxford University.